DATE POSTED: 12th March 2018
We post a 'Big Race' preview for our shareholders most Saturdays in our Racehorse Manager. It's a full analysis of the biggest and most competitive handicap of the day - and usually the biggest betting heat. It's a free extra service we provide to our shareholders, written by our own racing professionals. For the Cheltenham Festival we're making these 'Big Race' postings public - with a posting for every day of the meeting.
DAY ONEThe 2018 Festival starts! There's plenty to look forward to over the next few days, but everything gets going today with the big races right from the get-go. The Supreme Novices Hurdle gets things started and then we've the Mares Hurdle, the Arkle and of course the Champion Hurdle. Our Big Race preview is for the Ultima Handicap Chase.
Our Festival Big Race Preview starts today and goes right through the week. The big race of the day is posted the evening before racing.
Welcome to Cheltenham Day One! Hopefully we can pinpoint some value for you on the starting day of the Festival. If you are new to these postings, we use a combination of form and statistics to bring you a good insight into a particular race and hopefully highlight where there could be a hidden jem. As these races are always hugely competitive and big odds abound, we tend to offer a winning suggestion, along with a big juicy each-way alternative as well.
The going is usually nigh-on perfect at Prestbury Park, but may be the stickiest for years owing to recent bad weather, and may help the stayers rather than the speedsters.
The first statistic we must remember is that Nicky Henderson remains the overall top trainer at the Festival and is not going to give up that record to his younger rivals without a fight. He will surely add a few more to his tally this year with his stable stars, such as Buveur D’Air and Might Bite, but we think he may well pick up some success in the lower-profile races. A case in point is the Ultima Handicap Chase, especially with no Irish-trained competition in the race, where he has three runners, all with chances, and it wouldn’t be a shock if he’s got one primed to shine.
Paul Nicholls has had 21 unsuccessful attempts to win this and must hope his course and distance winner, Vicente, breaks this curse, but we think the Grand National may be better for the 9yo.
The Ultima is a juicy 3m 1f handicap that should benefit from a close look at the previous trends. For example, it may pay to not look much further than the first 4 or 5 in the betting as the winner of this race usually comes from there. Surprisingly, only two favourites have won in the last 30 years but the race has been won by horses priced below 12-1 on 14 of the last 18 occasions.
The race seems to be improving in class and one of the current trends is that 5 of the last 7 winners carried 11 stones or more. Previously, it had been the lower weights who prevailed, as, from 1993 to 2010, only 2 winners carried over 11st.
The last 6yo to win here was back in 1994 which places a question mark on the chances of Ramses De Teillee, Casse Tete and Coo Star Sivola (who does like Cheltenham but may also end up with the statistical burden of SP favourite).
Gold Present is one of the three Henderson runners and shoulders 11st 12lb and is definitely classy, but it would be quite a feat if he could defy that burden. We should point out that last year’s winner (Un Temps Pour Tout) did carry that weight, but we think it’s would be a big stretch to see it happening again so soon. If it does then we suggest putting Gold Present on your list of future superstars.
Singlefarmpayment was favourite in this race last year but couldn’t break the hoodoo and went down by a short head. He is trying his luck again this year and has plenty of Cheltenham experience. He was 10 lengths adrift of Gold Present at Ascot in Nov and may not be too far away if error free in his jumping(He may also be in the top 4 in the betting).
For our selection, we will go with SINGLEFARMPAYMENT to make up for last year’s narrow defeat. Sue Smith’s VINTAGE CLOUDS catches our eye off 10st 12lb, goes well in the mud and rarely runs a bad race. However, for an each-way selection at a big price it may be worth trying another mudlark, 9YO course and distance winner, COGRI, who carries bottom weight of 10st 6lb thanks to the 3lb allowance for jockey Jamie Bargary.
Enjoyed this Big Race preview? We post a 'Big Race' analysis at the weekend for all our shareholders, posted to our Racehorse Manager. It's one of the most-viewed pages of information we offer. Considering getting involved in racehorse ownership this summer? We have summer jumpers and plenty of flat horses still available, some of which will be racing pretty soon.